President inaugurated in ‘distinctively Goshen’ event

Rebecca Stoltzfus assumes role as Goshen College's 18th president

Feb 19, 2018 by

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GOSHEN, Ind. — In a celebratory ceremony around the theme of “Distinctively Goshen,” Rebecca Stoltzfus was inaugurated as Goshen College’s 18th president Feb. 17 in Sauder Concert Hall.

The event — filled with student participation and a strong global thread — opened with a procession of many international students into the hall lined with flags from all of Goshen’s Study-Service Term locations, as well countries current students are from. It concluded with the Women’s World Music Choir singing while circling the room.

Rebecca Stoltzfus speaks during her inauguration as president of Goshen College on Feb. 17. — Brian Yoder Schlabach/Goshen College

Rebecca Stoltzfus speaks during her inauguration as president of Goshen College on Feb. 17. — Brian Yoder Schlabach/Goshen College

President Stoltzfus offered four “distinctively Goshen” affirmations in her inaugural address.

Education at Goshen “will continue to express and to integrate the transcendent values of beauty, truth and goodness,” she said.

“We offer an education that liberates through engaging the whole person; it awakens and enlarges the capabilities of our students through the integration of the arts, the sciences, the humanities and the application of knowledge to do good.”

Second, Stoltzfus said, a Goshen education “will be one in which the faculty are outstanding scholars engaged in the pursuit of truth.”

“Let us manifest our respect for the intrinsic worth of every member of our campus community, and also our freedom to ask challenging questions and speak opposing views,” she said.

Third, Stoltzfus affirmed a Goshen education “will continue to be experiential and transformative to an unusual and adventuresome degree.”

‘Taproot of love’

Finally — in reference to the inaugural scripture, Eph. 3:16-17 — Stoltzfus affirmed that a Go­shen education is “rooted in an educated conscious love, formed and transformed by the way of Jesus, a love that gives us courage to be vulnerable and to be fierce when called upon to act for goodness.”

She added that this “taproot of love” leads the community to make particular commitments in this time and place.

“At a time in our nation when social inequalities are increasing, we will strive to craft policies and choose actions that expand social opportunity and increase equity,” she said. “At a time when the rhetoric of higher education pits job preparation against holistic human development, our education will be holistic and creative.

“At a time when the arts and humanities are viewed as non-profitable, we will preserve them, because they enable us to make a world that is worth living in. At a time when we are overwhelmed by disconnected information, we will host the eternal conversation about things that matter.”

Celebration of alumni

Music played a central role in the ceremony. Stoltzfus’ address was preceded by singing the Goshen hymn, “Teach Me Thy Truth.” Performing before, during and after the ceremony were a student jazz ensemble, the Goshen College Symphony Orchestra, a student vocal ensemble and the Women’s World Music Choir.

The ceremony included a two-part commissioned dramatic reading, “Goshen Voices.” It was written by 1972 alumnus Don Yost, performed by students and shared the stories of alumni: Lois Gunden (1936), Ramzi Farran (1968) and Arely Perez (2004). The ceremony also featured a commissioned poem, “Song of the Maples,” written by 2016 and 2017 Indiana Poet Laureate Shari Wagner, a 1980 graduate.

People from Stoltzfus’ time at Cornell University and in Ithaca, N.Y., participated in the ceremony. Cornell vice provost Judith Appleton provided an introduction. Stoltzfus’ former pastor, Rebecca Dolch of St. Paul United Meth­odist Church in Ithaca, gave an invocation.

Conrad Clemens, a 1985 graduate and chair of the Goshen board of directors, gave the installation charge. Former President James E. Brenneman presented the presidential medallion, designed and made by associate professor emerita of art Judy Wenig-Horswell. John H. Powell, a member of the college board of directors, provided a prayer of blessing. Joining Stoltzfus on stage were the living former presidents, including her father, Vic Stoltzfus, who served from 1984 to 1996.

Stoltzfus is a 1983 Goshen graduate, where she studied chemistry, before earning master’s and doctoral degrees in human nutrition from Cornell. Before joining the Cornell faculty in 2002, she taught human nutrition at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. She was most recently vice provost for undergraduate education at Cornell. She began her duties as president Nov. 1.

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